On September 10, federal, state, and local law enforcement agents swarmed several homes and apparel businesses within the Los Angeles area. Based on an investigative case ironically termed “Operation Fashion Police”, law enforcements cracked down on a long-running money laundering organization that benefited two Mexican drug cartels.
About 1,000 agents from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcements, The FBI, and other agencies raided over 70 locations, including a business at the heart of Los Angeles Fashion District near 12th and San Pedro, resulting in at least nine arrested defendants.
This Mexican drug money laundering organization involved money drops of millions of dollars in cash delivered in plastic-wrapped bundles and $80,000 cash delivered in a dog food bag. The raid found $35 million in cash hidden in cardboard boxes at a condo, $10 million stored in duffel bags at a Bel-Air mansion, and four yet to be opened safes. Additionally, more than 30 bank accounts were seized, totaling at $19 million. Altogether, the raid officials seized approximately $65 million, from both cash and bank accounts globally.
“We think this is a widespread problem in the fashion district, where businesses are often involved in international trade,” said Robert Dugdale, assistance U.S. attorney in charge of criminal division.
From this raid, three defendants associated with QT Fashion were arrested. QT Fashion is the parent company associated with QT Maternity and Andres Fashion. The three defendants name are Andrew Jong Hack Park (56, aka Andres Park, La Canada-Flintridge), Sang Jun Park (36, La Crescenta), and Jose Isabel Gomez Arreaoloa (49, Los Angeles).
Four people from Pacific Eurotex were also arrested. Based on the investigation, these four defendants received laundered money totaling to at least $370,000 in bulk cash on four isolated instances. Arrests included Hersel Neman (55, Beverly Hills), Morad Neman (54, Westwood), Mehran Khalili (45, Beverly Hills), and Alma Villalobos (52, Arleta).
The last two arrested included those associated with Yili Underwear and Gayima Underwear. Defendants were named as Xilin Chen and Chuan Chen of Temple City.
Operation Fashion Police began in May 2013. ““We used confidential informants and other methods to identify money brokers who were dropping money for the drug cartels at businesses in the garment district. We then inserted undercover agents, who took over the job of transporting the money and dropping it off at the garment companies on behalf of the money brokers,” Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in Southern California, said. “By doing that, we had an inside eye on what is happening.”
This is the first of many planned takedowns to rid and minimize the large network of criminals within the garment industry who have been assisting the drug cartels for years.